Writers and Artists: James Sturm and Rich Tommaso
Sturm and Tommaso tell the story of the great baseball pitcher Satchel Paige from the point of view of Emmet, a fictional. black, Depression Era sharecropper in Alabama. In his own brief baseball career, the narrator faced Paige for one at-bat, then later took his son to see him in a local barnstorming game. In truth, more of the material is devoted to Emmet and his family's struggles in the Jim Crow South than to Paige. The authors don't pull many punches in portraying the brutality of the white landowners.
The material on Paige, when he does turn up, is interesting. We see his flamboyance, his charm and his overpowering athletic skill. Anyone wanting to learn about Paige would be better off reading Satchel: The Life and Times of an American Legend by Larry Tye (my review here), though there were a few new tidbits for me. Paige had a preferred catcher throughout his career, Bill Perkins, whom Paige would insist teams hire as part of a package deal. If there's anything about Perkins in Tye's book, I don't remember it. Also, the authors identify Paige as the highest paid athlete in the world in his barnstorming prime.
There are four pages of explanatory notes at the end of the book, expanding the historical context of many of the panels. I've seen this in other historically-based graphic novels and I'm not sure how I feel about it. I get the limitations of the medium but the notebook dump approach only draws attention to the creators' inability to work more of the material into the main body of the work.
Overall, the book is interesting. It's certainly not the most thorough exploration of the history available but it's a meaningful addition to the library, perhaps enough to draw readers to the subject matter.